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Talking Point

In Talking Point we present our take on current affairs and developments in the worlds of business, financial markets and politics.

91 Documents
December 21, 2017
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House prices and rents have risen considerably during the current house price cycle. Rents are the component of the consumer price basket which has the biggest impact on overall inflation. While recent newspaper reports and market figures reflect the uptrend in rents, the official statistics are suspiciously free of it. This holds especially for Berlin. Consequently, official figures for the capital – and probably for Germany as a whole, if to a smaller extent – probably underestimate actual inflation. [more]
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December 15, 2017
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The Basel Committee’s recent agreement on final capital rules for global banks is set to have only limited effect on overall capital requirements, but will impact EU banks more strongly than their peers. In recent quarters, European banks have already strengthened their capital ratios substantially and have become more profitable, thanks to moderately better revenues, lower costs and lower loan losses. Balance sheet size and risk-weighted assets have declined, underscoring the continuing lack of growth momentum in the industry. This might change somewhat next year, as European banks could benefit from the strong performance of the economy via a pickup in lending, which so far has remained sluggish. Further tailwinds from declining loss provisions and falling expense levels are less likely though. [more]
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December 5, 2017
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The EU Commission proposed new mandatory CO₂ targets for passenger cars. These targets cannot be achieved with combustion engines alone. Stricter regulation thus enforces the electrification of the power train. However, the average car buyer currently does not play to the tune of regulatory policy and turns a cold shoulder on most alternative fuels. There are other climate policy instruments that outperform the CO₂ targets for passenger cars in terms of meeting the environmental targets and economic efficiency. [more]
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November 15, 2017
The euro’s second place among the world’s most important reserve currencies has remained so far undisputed. The single currency’s share of allocated foreign exchange reserves stabilised at 19.9% in Q2, according to IMF data. The US dollar easily defended its position as the dominant currency in the international monetary system. But both the euro and the dollar gradually gave some way to other reserve currencies. Regardless of whether this observation reflects structural developments or rather (temporary) shifts in reserve allocation - it certainly fuels the discussion about the 21st century’s leading reserve currency (or currencies). [more]
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October 2, 2017
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The German retail sector has visibly lifted its sales forecast for 2017, up from 2% to 3%. The key driver is online retail, along with the currently very consumer-friendly economic environment in Germany, which strengthens consumers‘ purchasing power. The digitisation of the retail sector has in many respects become a challenge for the established stationary stores. But at the same time, it creates new opportunities for retailers to respond to changing consumer demands. The supermarket is, per se, not necessarily the loser, as is illustrated by the current success of multi-channel retail, which allows greater flexibility for the customers, thereby creating an entirely new shopping experience. [more]
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September 22, 2017
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German carmakers have recently lost market share in Western Europe and the USA, also – but not exclusively – due to the diesel debate. In China, the market share of German carmakers picked up again in the first half of 2017 vis-à-vis the preceding two years. Overall, chances are good the German automotive industry can in future at least maintain its position in the key global auto markets. [more]
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August 4, 2017
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The results of the “diesel summit” are an interim solution at best. In view of the current negative sentiment towards diesel engines, diesel cars will stand a chance in the medium to long term only if the auto industry credibly demonstrates that it can keep emissions below the legal thresholds in real driving situations and in (almost) all weather conditions. If carmakers do not succeed in this endeavour, customers will increasingly turn away from diesel cars, as they fear excessive residual value losses or stricter regulation. [more]
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July 10, 2017
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The German mechanical engineering sector recently tripled its growth forecast for 2017, from 1% to 3% (both in real terms). Robotics and automation is an important growth driver; this sub-segment is likely to increase output by 7%, i.e. double the rate of the segment as a whole. The mega issue “Industry 4.0” plays a key role for this development. As this trend is gaining importance both in Germany and around the world, the medium-term outlook for the sub-segment remains excellent as well. [more]
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May 26, 2017
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The massive overvaluations on the euro-area market for residential real estate (as measured by the price-income ratios for 2007 and 2008) are a thing of the past. Currently, house prices are excessive only in several smaller countries. However, this situation is likely to change towards the end of the decade if the dynamic uptrend in German house prices continues as expected. [more]
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May 26, 2017
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European banks have enjoyed a good start to the year. Revenues have risen, much more than costs. Loan loss provisions have remained low. Bottom-line profit has jumped by more than 40% compared with 12 months ago. However, the rebound has followed what was a weak period in the previous year – in fact, the industry is in many ways just back where it was in Q1 2015. What is more, judging only by the P&L, there has been relatively little change since the European debt crisis erupted in Greece seven years ago. The industry has more or less been treading water ever since, a frustrating experience after decades of strong growth and massive recent restructuring efforts. However, other performance indicators clearly show major improvements, not least with regard to banks’ de-risking and buildup of capital. [more]
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